The first order of business is to discuss what the changes really mean on the PTR right now.
The first place I personally go to for analysis on Restoration Druid specs is Phaelia at Resto4Life, a brilliant blogger who, with Valenna of Parry! Dodge! Spin!, is also the driving force behind Blog Azeroth.
According to testing performed by Phaelia and reported in her post of February 20th, the Lifebloom changes on the PTR resulted in an overall reduction in healing per tick of approximately 8%.
To quote from Phaelia's article;
The latest changes to Lifebloom (the coefficient nerf and the changes to Empowered Rejuvenation) went live on the Public Test Realm this afternoon. After some testing, at 1500 +Healing, you can expect to see an 8% nerf to the amount healed per tick by Lifebloom. You can expect a further 0.2% reduction for every 250 +Healing beyond 1500. This is due to a flat 10% nerf to the +Healing coefficient to the HoT portion of Lifebloom.
This sounds pretty drastic to me. From a pure raiding point of view, I'm dead set against anything that is going to reduce the effectiveness of raid healers, and as a Druid I have long loved the ability to keep rolling Lifebloom stacks on others when I am called upon (oh so infrequently) to heal in an instance.
Seeing Phaelias' comment on changes to Empowered Rejuvenation, I explored the WoW Forums for more info and found that in Kyothi of Sentinels (US)'s excellent thread "2.4 Testing, Answers and Concerns", Rahato of Cenarion Circle (US) reports that Empowered Rejuvenation is now increasing the healing coefficient of the final 'bloom' portion of Lifebloom by approximately +11%. He is also reporting that his results are closer to a 8.4% reduction to the healing coefficient of the Heal over Time portion of Lifebloom.
From what I understand, most of the changes we have seen Blizzard make to class abilities in the past stem from problems with balance in PvP.
To that end, I was curious what the impression of other Restoration specced bloggers might be.
Lifebloomer was very eloquent about his opinion, providing insight into how he uses Lifebloom along with his other healing abilities in a typical raid situation, along with the math.
From the comments there, Lifebloomer asserts that this will "limit our ability to do our current job in raids, limiting spike damage so that the other healers have enough time to get their flash heals off."
A commenter for that same post named Taemojitsu seems to have a different opinion, that, instead of being an outright nerf of overall healing effectiveness, this change is supposed to encourage Druids to stop relying on rolling Lifebloom stacks and instead return to using Lifebloom as a means of timing when to allow the final 'bloom' effect to deploy, and to depend more on a wider variety of other healing abilities. Certainly an interesting spin on the situation.
Next I visited Bellwether of the blog 4Haelz to see what her thoughts on the subject might be. Imagine my surprise to find another very upset Restoration Druid. Hmmm. I think I'm starting to see a trend here among the smart and talented leafy set.
Reading Bellwether's PvP oriented post, and most especially the comments bring a whole bunch more insight into what is going on.
To quote Bellwether on how Resto Druids and Lifebloom work in raids;
The point of a druid is to normalize a tank's health; to mitigate some of the damage they're taking from a boss with constantly ticking HoTs. If you let a Lifebloom bloom, your HoT vanishes, and the tank starts taking more damage while you build your HoT back up. And a stack of 3 blooms for as much as a stack of 1; using the mana to bloom a stack of 3 is wasteful and only stacking one is too little, too late.
And she makes her point clear on how she sees this affecting PvP a few comments later;
This actually in some ways helps us in Arena. They increased the amount of heal in the bloom, supposedly to counteract the less heal in the ticks. Bloom is not used in PvE so it's a huge nerf; in PvP though, we get bloom from purges, spell steals, and just running away in bear form without refreshing the stack.
We can possibly become even more problematic in arenas with this change.
As she points out, If this change is truly being made due to PvP, then this makes little sense to me, and I'm hoping someone can explain it. The use of consistent rolling stacks of Lifebloom is a raid tactic. The use of the bloom from a single fast Lifebloom cast is a PvP tactic.
So why the heck would they nerf the effectiveness of the rolling stacks and buff the bloom?
I am clearly missing something somewhere.
Having visited the blogs of some of the Restoration Druids I know and respect, I feel I've got a good idea on how the blogging community is seeing these changes. Namely, a raid nerf and a potential PvP buff, which flies in the face of my understanding of why they'd do something like this.
Time to go wade through the pain and terror that is the official WoW Forums.
Checking out the forums, first I revisit Kyothi of Sentinels (US)'s thread.
Under the changes to Lifebloom and Empowered Rejuvenation, Kyothi asks the question we all want answered;
Nerfed in PvE for PvP reasons?
Was the approximately 8% decrease in lifebloom periodic healing done as a balance for PvP? Was the nerf to a restoration druid's most used heal in PvE also intended? What was the rationale behind this nerf, and is there any plan to compensate for this loss, perhaps through changes to Tree of Life? Did the developers also consider that this was a nerf to balance and feral druids especially, since they do not get the empowered rejuvenation increase also implemented in this patch?
At this time, there has been no Blue response to this question.
Looking at some of the other comments from around the forums, such as those here and here, an interesting thing I'm noticing seems to be a general belief amongst some players that the buffs to mana regeneration in patch 2.4, the spell haste on high end PvE sets, coupled with the increased 'bloom' effect, will make this nerf a very small issue.
You will make your own opinions on this,but for my part, I don't agree. I think that for those in end-game raiding guilds, if this goes live as it stands,it will be a pretty painful nerf to Resto Druid PvE... and I'm still not seeing any signs of how this is going to adversely affect PvP, even in 2v2 fights.
I think it's needless for me to add that most of the comments on the Official WoW Forums degenerated into inane 'lrn2play' idiocy by non-Druid classes in the threads about a Druid ability.
So, if you are a Druid or you enjoy getting healed by them in PvE, what might you do to show your opposition to the nerf?
Amongst the Restoration Druid blogging community, Leafshine has started a movement, Don't Nerf Trees, and is encouraging anyone that supports this cause to place the 'Don't Nerf Trees' image somewhere on your website in proud opposition to the nerf.
The picture is available for download in both small and large sizes, and if you choose to join the cause and display the image on your site, please make sure you drop in and let Leafy know so he can add your name to the 'Roll of Honor'.
I am proud to be a part of this on my personal blog, and I encourage you to go check Leafshine out, and participate here in the comments on your views of how this will really all work out.
If you wish to add your voice to the protests in another way, a petition has been started and is ongoing in the official WoW Forums. At the time of this writing it was up to the third thread, the first two having each reached the maximum 500 post limit for a thread.
As we all know, Blizzard takes little or no notice of such petitions, I think I even remember hearing that they reserve the right to lock such threads or delete them. However, there is always a first time for everything. And in some cases, whispers abound that it has worked once before....
And if you feel very strongly about the nerf, if you are in fact so outraged that you want to stage a revolution... what would be a revolution without a great protest song courtesy of Athineea?
Whatever your feelings on the proposed changes, the time to make those feelings known is now, before the changes on the PTR go live, and Blizzard will have to admit to making a mistake in order to reverse them.
Hopefully, when Patch 2.4 goes live, whatever changes are made to Lifebloom and Empowered Rejuvenation will be in a form that is acceptable to everyone in the Druid community. Possibly painful, if they take the shape of an actual PvP nerf, but at least acceptable.
As things stand now, I think all we really have is a sense of confusion as to what they're changing, and no real idea as to the reasons why.
WTB Blue poster, PST. kthxbye!
Special thanks to Nightravyn of NE Hunter, L4Mobs, PST! for the awesome March of the Ents image. Thanks Nightravyn!